Large areas of traditional wildflower meadow have been lost right across the UK in recent years due to factors such as the intensification of agriculture and changes in land use. This decline has had a serious impact on the wildlife that depends on this valuable habitat.
Creation of small scale wildflower areas, while not a solution to the decline, can help provide a "stepping stone" for species such as invertebrates and small mammals, allowing them to move more freely through the landscape.
In May 2013, the Partnership's Urban and Communities Group undertook a demonstration wildflower creation project, which they hope will provide inspiration for business organisations throughout the region.
With a grant from Aberdeen Greenspace, and some funding from the Partnership, eleven hundred wildflower plugs were planted within the grounds of the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen. The plugs, provided by Curam Fyvie Nursey, were grown from local provenance seed and included a number of species, such as Devil's-bit scabious, Red campion, Lesser knapweed, Ragged Robin and Red clover which are particularly beneficial to a range of insects. The wildflowers were planted on a several volunteer days held at the Instiute, with the assistance of Aberdeen Greenspace and children from First Class Nursery.
The area will be managed by landscape staff at the James Hutton Institute as a traditional wildflower meadow, following an appropriate mowing regime, and removing cuttings to prevent the builld-up of nutrients. The sewing of Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) seed into the wildflower area is due to commence shortly to help suppress some of the more robust grasses that can often outcompete wildflowers.
There are many local businesses throughout Aberdeen City and Shire that have areas of greenspace adjacent to their buildings. Many of these are currently managed as closely-cropped grass - it is hoped, as the Urban and Communities' wildflower project develops, that it may serve as a case study for local businesses as a simple, but extremely beneficial, measure that can be incorporated into the work enviroment.
Photo by John Malster - created wildflower area within Aberdeenshire.